Kona 2015

Posted by Dylan on 27 October 2015

Where to begin...

Kona had been either at the back of my mind or the front of my mind for at least 18months, from the thought of qualifiying, through qualifying, and then the preparation. 
It now firmly sits at the front of my mind again or still, even after more than 2 weeks since race day. 
It sits there now because of what I can only describe as a complete miss in terms of performance.

Here's the story. 

I spent 6 great weeks in Boulder, hitting every minute of training, and almost every minute of intensity, while training through almost nothing but sunshine and warmth.
I jumped on the plane and arrived in Kona 13 days out from the big 'dance.'
I spent those days doing recon, some key work, plenty of mind games and self reasurrance, and lots of recovery and rest. 
Come race day I was fit, fresh, excited to race, and on form... right!?

Kona is the type of race and the kind of place that I love. 
A small town with the same mutual love of the event as those who are there for it. I had a similar feeling to being in Wanaka, Taupo, or even Roth. You could feel the energy in the town and you could definitely see it in the competitors out riding and running the streets.
The conditions and environment make Kona one of the most honest courses I have raced on, a true test of an individuals physical and mental strength. The way IRONMAN racing should be.

Pre race ritual.

As always race morning came around pretty quickly. 
I had my coffee and eggs on toast, packed my bags full of bottles (about 10) and nutrition, and headed down to a heaving Kona Pier.
The air was hot and sticky, nothing new, but there wasn't much wind to speak of, obviously a bit of a rarity in Kona, and I was happy to see that there was a bit of swell rolling in to the bay.
A couple of forgotten nutrition items were my only real hickups leading in to the race. I managed to leave a water bottle in the freezer, not life threatening even in Kona, and a couple of Ems Power Cookies, which was more disappointing than race changing (I still had 3 others). 
I ran around like a headless chicken prior to the gun going off, so again, all in all there was nothing really out of the ordinary for my race morning.
It was an amazing atmosphere for the swim start and every viewing space of Dig Me Beach and the bay was packed with supporters.
When the gun went it was an awesome feeling to finally get this thing started. 

There were the usual early fliers who had obviously done a bit of sprint work in their build up. 
I was happy to get some open water out to the far left and was able to settle in to a good rhythm early on and establish a bit of a lead without too much difficulty. 
The swim in Kona is actually pretty challengeing and therefore not as fast as it could be. The currents and swell that you get in close to the shore mean that you're always fighting something, never just cruising through, a lot like the rest of the race!
At about 1500m I felt my first foot tap and not long after that Jan Frodeno swam up beside me and settled in there. 
It was a little odd to have this happen in an Ironman swim, but I had fully expected anywhere up to 10 guys to be out of the water with me, and so carried on as usual. 
We hit the turn and I took a look to see how big the gap was and I felt as though we were pulling away at a reasonale clip.
On the way back to T1 I felt the pace start to ease up a little and I made a couple of attempts to pick it back up. Jan was quick to respond and never let me go. I kept thinking to myself that this guy is probably about to win this race, but he won't even let me lead the swim. What an animal! 
I had another couple cracks at getting away and picking up the pace in the later stages of the swim, but realised that he wasn't going to let anyone win anything from him without a fight on this day. 
It is pretty impressive to see that kind of competitiveness... but also a pain in the ass for me! 
It was a bit of fun coming in to the beach, Jan had the inside line and I knew I had to get around him if I was to have a chance of leading the swim and keeping my 100% lead out record. It was pretty much impossible to get him off my hip in the last 50m and it really just came down to a bit of luck (maybe a little skill) with our dolphin dives and somehow I managed to put some ground on him and lead out of the water.

 All going good at this stage.

Through T1 I had made the decision to put socks on for the bike and lost a bit of time. It was also here that we started to hear the time splits back to the next group. It was about where I thought it would be, but the group was much bigger than I expected.

On to the bike and it is within the first 10km that I generally know how my day is going to unfold.  
I had a funny kind of cramp getting on the bike, which is never ideal, but i shook it off and told myself my legs would come right. 
I felt sluggish, but remained postive about the day ahead. I knew there was a big group not that far behind and I figured it was going to be a busy day out on the bike.
The group of 15-20 caught me on Palani hill about 8km in to the ride, not the best place to be caught, but I jumped 'on' and off we went. 
I struggled for rhythm and couldn't settle in to any spot in the pack. After about the 30km mark I decided I would be better off out the back riding my own pace. So that is where I went.
The group pulled away pretty slowly and eventually a group of 4 picked me up including Callum Millward and Nils Fromhold. Not a bad couple dudes to ride to Hawi and back with... sadly no jokes from Callum on this trip though. 
At the turnaround in Hawi I was really looking forward to my frozen slushy bottles of water and electrolyte from special needs. Unfortunately for me the special insulated bottles I had purchased were significantly better than I had anticipated and they were still frozen rock solid. I had to discard the two frozen bricks.
From the turnround things literally and figuratively started to go down hill. I started losing power, was getting uncomfortable and lost contact with my little group. 
By the 140km mark and the turn back on to the Queen K I was all but done and to make matters worse we were also battling a head/cross wind, plus the many demons in my head. 

I kept telling myself that this was Kona and if I could just get to the run, then have a good run, then it might be possible to salvage a respectable result.

As usual I was rather happy to be getting off my bike and was looking forward to settling in to a good marathon.
My legs felt ok getting started and I tried not to get carried away in the moment. Through KMs 1-10 I was running alright and feeling ok, from KMs 10-16 I started to feel any strength begin to fade, through KMs 16-25 I was simply holding on to something that would have only just resembled running, and at KM 25 I heard the helicopter and motorcade of Daniela Ryf coming. My body was screaming at me to stop, but I had to wait until the cameras and everybody else had made the pass and this seemed to take an eternity.

 Kona 2015 was the hottest race day in the past 10 years. 

Once I stopped the first time I knew my day was finished. From there my mind went straight to KONA 2016 and how to be better. I did not want to be where I was.
On a side note, I was lucky enough to walk the energy lab and jog out the rest of the run with good mate Tim Berkel who also didn't have the day he was after. 
Some good banter was had, something I will remember above most other things from that day.

Looking back, the race itself was not the failure, it was my build up. I never got out of it what I thought I would have and arrived in Kona under prepared. 
The plan for 2016 is simple; do what works for me. Train where I train best, and prepare how I know is best. 

Thanks for the continued support. Looking forward to having another crack in 2016


Over and Out!




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